Finding a hapless fool to wed turned out to be easier than she thought, barely a day within Brightwall, a woman named Wilma overeager for a divorce foisted her husband Vincent upon her willingly. It wasn't hard to see why the woman had wanted to be rid of him and breaking up their marriage had felt like a good deed in itself since the guy was truly an asshole. He wasn't horrible to look at but his appeal ended there because his personality was so…unsavory.
Courting him had not been hard, though there was notable reluctance or holding back on her part he seemed not to notice and proclaim that she was the most exciting thing to happen to him since his marriage to Wilma. Wedding him had also been unremarkable, he'd wanted a large lavish affair and she'd wanted a modest private one. They'd finally compromised marrying on the Brightwall Bridge where everyone could see and then having a reception on a much smaller scale in the local pub. The location of the reception was fairly predictable nor did it thrill her. However she was relieved when he came to bed so drunk that he passed out on top of her unable to complete the task of consummating their 'marriage'. She breathed a sigh of relief, pushed him off her onto HIS side of the bed, turned onto her side and finally fell into a restless sleep. It still didn't stop him from waking up and boasting about his feats in their martial bed and she wasn't inclined to contradict him. She didn't want him inside her bed.
For their 'family' home she bought a small property still within the village boundaries but well outside the village walls for her place of sanctuary and solace. After the marriage it became clear that the rural life outside Brightwall didn't suit him, he was forever leaving the house and her to journey to Brightwall. What interested him in Brightwall became clear when Wilma, who had become fast friends with her after helping her, came to console her over the fact he had already flitted to further his acquaintances with two other women in their beds specifically. Though she played the part of a forlorn wife she was relieved beyond measure that others were willing to keep him busy and out of her hair. It wasn't that uncommon for men to practice infidelity while their wives were swollen with pregnancy as she was.
Though Wilma was a gossip she proved to be a welcome edition to the household. For one her 'meddling' presence infuriated Vincent to where he'd have nothing to do with the house while the woman was there. Secondly she was a welcome fountain of knowledge of what was going on in Brightwall if only to keep her mind off the pregnancy and aware of what was going on with the World. Third, she was becoming one of the first friends she had of her own gender, she was the first sort of friend or confidant she'd ever had.
Finally Walter, sensing her unhappiness and remembering his promise, had a second house purchased within the village walls to keep Vincent out of her hair. Along with the house came a modest (if not stingy) upkeep of twenty-five gold coins and a threat for Vincent to 'keep her happy'. Finally her husband seemed to catch on that happiness equated to him leaving her alone. Which he did happily minus insinuations he needed more to live off of. Walter, who was playing the part of being her Daddy, quickly shut up those complaints too. Finally she was free to enjoy the fruits of her disastrous union from afar with minimal cost to herself. The house was quaint, peaceful, and lovely but still not enough to make her forget her duties. While in Brightwall she started a profitable venture, a business in Real Estate. It was rewarding in its own way since it allowed her to do something useful for the rebellion. The gist of her business consisted of buying houses, renting them out, then fixing them up. Within three months she'd already started infiltrating Brightwall's business front, acquiring business for a share of their profits.
The motivation for her need of money was simple. She needed money to arm and support her rebellion and deep down she knew that her rebellion would cost, it would possibly ruin the Kingdom and after years under Logan's rule and his tax policies the people would not be in any shape to pay for Albion to be rebuilt. The money had to come from somewhere; she knew she would likely absorb a lot of costs from out of her own pocket. Running the business gave her profits each day that she spent and re-invested in property that soon extended to out to Mistpeak Valley and the Dweller Camp. Once she went back to adventuring she could start making investments in the Millfields and Bowerstone. It was with a certain irony that although her Brother held claim to Albion she was slowly (and legitimately) buying his empire right out from under him. In a similar fashion she also worked hard to win the hearts and mind of its people through her good deeds.
Believing that she was doing any good for the revolution even from afar comforted her; it carried her well through the restlessness of her pregnancy. It was a strange irony that as a Princess she'd never known anything but containment within the Castle walls she called home and now she could scarcely keep still in one place without some measure of diversion, something to hold her attention and keep her mind merry. Languishing for nine months would undoubtedly make her lose some of her edge but she wanted to remain sharp in any way she could. As a Princess and Hero she acknowledged that she had indeed changed and for the better.
Though the hours drew into days, days into night it still took her by surprised when the months passed by. Time seemed to drag but when the act of birthing came upon her it felt so soon and she was not utterly sure she was ready for it. She remembered the night clearly. In hindsight, with being so close to her time of delivery, she shouldn't have been alone. Nor had it been a good idea for her to journey in her condition. With the difficulties of winter dawning upon the tiny rural setting of Brightwall, the bandits of Mistpeak had grown bold, bold enough to attempt to siege the small settlement into a surrender borne of desperation.
The reasons for her reckless decision were twofold. The first was out of a sense of duty, of honor. She made an alliance with the Dwellers, an alliance built upon an agreement for Brightwall to share its resources. When the bandits compromised the delivery of what was promised, they compromised the alliance itself. The second reason was more self-serving, the cold season made things difficult enough but Brightwall couldn't survive through the snow and ice, indefinitely cut off from the world. A desperate plea had been sent out to Logan and as his inaction indicated it had fallen upon deaf ears. Though she was close to her labor, she come to realize Brightwall's only chance at breaking the siege was if someone took initiative to break it, all the better if said individual was a Hero. Though the trek was difficult in her delicate condition she was motivated by self preservation is not by her desire to do right by the community that so readily adopted her. Brightwall possessed no midwife, the closest was in the Dweller encampment and there was no way to penetrate the bandit blockage. There was a very real possibility that a safe birth depended upon the success of her mission. Failure could not be afforded; she'd not get a second chance at this.
Though she was a dangerous dead eye with the rifle she couldn't afford to have the noise of a gun shot alert the others to her presence. Her melee weapon of choice was the hammer but unfortunately she couldn't use that either. She didn't trust she could keep her balance between the hammer's inherent weight and that of her child. Not to mention one careless move on her part or a counter from her enemies could act as a double-edged sword, damaging her and the child. The last option was the blade which she'd adopted, it was quiet and she'd learnt how to use it to great effect. She only hoped months of inaction with it had not dulled her skills. With great care she shift over the snow, her approach was soundless, easily drowned out by the clumsy foot falls of her prey. She elevated her arm, the blade level as she drew it back. It pleased her that there was no tremor to her grip upon its hilt, there was a fatalistic acknowledgement that it was her life or his. She drew it back, feeling strength build as she waited for him to step into striking distance. Once his back was to her she released the energy she'd built up, the flourish of her blade whistled gently through the air but it wasn't enough to warn him. The bandit's head flew, lightening the encumbrance upon his shoulders. Her dog sniffed the corpse's head, baring its fangs into a low snarl as it walked away.
More bandits were nearby, she could tell from her dog's very demeanor, his fur was bristling and his tail was rigid, normally when he was in good spirits it wagged, now he was altogether agitated. Her Alsatian, Turk, was a priceless addition in this raid upon the bandit's position. He could easily pick up their foul stench upon the air, in time to warn her of the approach of other bandits. That, and he'd been known to knock down enemies with his mere weight before ravaging them with his fangs. Though she had no other men at her back, the thought of her dog being there made her feel calm, safe, and secure – there is few others she'd trust to watch her back. Though her dog was not a human he was definitely a companion beyond compare.
She shivered, pulling her cloak more tightly around her bulk as she pulled out a satchel of rolled up leather, carefully unwinding it and laying it flat upon the snowy ground. Inside were explosives meant for magnifying the impact and degree of her magical attack when it struck. The explosives were nothing large or heavy in scale but if placed in just the right place, like beside a bucket of gunpowder, it could release a devastating punch. The only thing unique to each one was the length of their fuses, a customization made and meant for helping her 'time' their detonation. It wouldn't do to throw one into the fray, have it go off, and warn the rest of the camp of the impending assault.
It would take time for the longer fuses to burn down so she lit them first, fitting the charge into an improvised sling. She aimed through a clear part of the bush. She released the charge and it landed with a small thump, barely visible while embedded in the snow. She smiled, pleased to see the fuse still fizzling away above ground but still there was no time to linger upon her successes thus far, though the fuse was not laced with fire accelerants, now that the first trap was set, time was ticking and she still had to circle the entire encampment with them. The way she saw it she could use her explosives to thin out their numbers and then pick off the remaining survivors with magic or rifle. She wasn't even all that concerned with killing them all, if some escaped with their lives as a testament to their cowardice it was fine with her as long as the bandit blockade was broken.
Though her weight made it awkward to move swiftly upon the inclined hilltops she successfully planted four more traps and estimated she had maybe about a minute more before the first trap went off, setting off a chain reaction that would make her lose the element of surprise. She not make it to her final trap site in that time frame. A pity, she reflected as she pocketed the unlit charge in hand. It had the shortest fuse by far but at the very least she could use it as a grenade if enough of the fools gathered en masse.
Time for plan B, improvisation in its purest form, she slung her rifle upright, looking along the barrel and bring the sight to level with her prospective target.
If she could not deliver her charge there she'd pick it off with her rifle.
The target wasn't too far away; the shot was easily less than fifty meters in front of her.
Though her heart accelerated in response to the adrenaline pumping through her she calmed her breathing. Breathing slowly in and out, once.
In and out, twice.
In and out, a third and final time.
It was close enough, the breathing had helped to steady her nerves, her rifle was stoic and still as she brought it up.
She placed her finger upon the trigger and pulled it. A shot cracked across the snowy canyon.
The bullet quickly cross the distance and hit it target, the bucket of gunpowder exploded. The miniature flare taking about five lives in one instant.
Then the chaos started, her distant explosive trap echoing the sound and effect of her rifle shot and heralding the slaughter she'd planned so carefully.
The bandits were swift in their response if nothing else, seven or so immediately coming out of the woodwork despite her carefully laid trap. She cracked off a few shots, aiming with deadly accuracy for the head, neck, and torsos. Despite the dexterity of her reflexes they were closing the ground between themselves and her and not every shot took down an enemy. Sometimes it took two or three shots to down a single man. They also gained ground without punishment when she paused to reload. As she reloaded she started making a mental tally of how many 'living' men stood between her and the mountain road to the Dweller encampment.
Her heart sank, she had hoped for better results. Any single person would have been thrilled by her results: over thirty dead and not a scratch on her but that looked likely to change with the way they angrily swarmed toward with only fifty meters now between them and her. She drew the pistol holstered to her hip, trading accuracy for close range efficiency. Seven men closed in on her as the last bullet was ejected from the barrel. She cursed but Turk lunged into action, bringing down a single man with a crushing blow delivered by his jaws. Blood stained the muzzle of her faithful companion as it clamped its teeth on another man, bringing him down by knocking him off balance. Recognizing the animal as a threat a third man brought his axe in a downward slashing motion before Turk could react. She leveled her reloaded pistol, instinct demanding that she protect her best friend. A round stunned the third man enough for him to be easy prey to her canine pet but that shot to save her Turk cost her.
A backhand fist pummeled into her face, knocking her back against a tree. Pain exploded throughout her body, the wind knocked out of her as she fell to the ground. She was getting back up when a brutal kick connected with her side, a twisting pain in her abdomen distracting her at the worst possible moment. A contraction split through her but she concentrated well enough to think of its protection. She turned her back to her assailant, curling in a fetal position, her mind swimming as she prayed for an intervention, ANY intervention that would get her and her baby out of this alive. She though she saw her prayers answered mere seconds before everything went dark. . .
Sir Walter Beck was not there in the right place at the right time by mere chance. For months he'd been in Bowerstone coordinating the Princess Elrelia's allies with the numerous operative cells of the Bowerstone resistance. He'd agreed to allow her to keep the child but without his efforts over the last few months the revolution would have lost momentum, sputtering to an unacceptable standstill. Initially when he'd approached Brightwall he had run into the bandit patrols and been repelled. With nowhere else to go and unable to break the chokehold on Brightwall by himself, he'd gone to the Dweller Camp. It had been a simple matter to convince Sabine and the Dwellers to commit their forces into breaking the siege. Brightwall had vowed to share the bounty of their resources; Brightwall couldn't be bound by that promise if they were strangled by a siege. The Dwellers acted mainly out of self-preservation but that didn't matter to Walter. He would take help any way he could get it.
Timing was crucial, by his calculations Elrelia was getting closer to her time, he wanted to know how she was doing, he NEEEDED to know.
The last thing he had expected to see was her like this, in delicate condition, single handedly breaking the siege. Or near single handedly breaking it, he lunged into action, bringing down her attacker. The remaining bandits were put down by the combined effort of the Dweller warriors accompanying him but his attention was riveted on Elrelia. He bent down beside her prone form and brought her into his arms. Her breathing was the shallow breathing of the unconscious; despite his best efforts she was unresponsive. Then her body tensed within his arms, a soft moan of pain breaking through her lips. Without hesitation he shifted her carefully in his arms turning toward the mountain path that led to the Dweller village.
His heart sank in fear even as his instincts told him to move. He had to get her out of the cold, he had to get her to safety away from the bandits and, he thought ruefully, her own stupidity. She been amazingly brave but stupid as well, both had been brought on by her desperation. Now that the immediate threat of the bandits was gone another took its place – the child. Clearly the stress of its mother's desperate assault had brought on the labor gripping Elrelia. Stranded out in the wilds would be to invite death to both mother and child, if they didn't freeze first infection would surely kill. He started the climb upward towards the Mistpeak mountains, praying for her to last through the mountain path if not for herself than for her child. The loss of either would be devastating.
Years ago he'd lost her mother, the Heroine of Bowerstone, to grief, the grief that consumes and eats away the heart despite its attempts to live and love again. To lose that love had been crippling but he recovered because of their daughter, the young Princess she'd left behind for him. For the first time, at the thought of losing his daughter and grandchild, he felt like he could almost imagine what the old Queen felt like on her deathbed like the world would never be bright again.
Determination made him tighten his grip on her, putting one foot in front of the other.
I am not going to let that happen!
A / N: In this fanfiction the Heroine of Bowerstone chose the path of ultimate sacrifice at the conclusion of Fable II. I imagined that she would live and reign for a time but her losses would make her eventually lose the will to live. There are multiple reasons I portrayed it like this. As a Hero the Heroine of Bowerstone would naturally be long lived and resilient physically but I imagined that losing all of her previous life(s) as wife and mother would be a grief that would never go away and would always weigh on her emotionally. Logan and the Hero of Brightwall would help her hold on to life for a time but they'd never replaced everyone and everything she'd lost by her own choice.
Elrelia is the name of the Heroine of Brightwall in my fic. At first I thought about calling her simply the Heroine but realized that would be impractical so I gave her a name.